A Liberal MP has called for politicians earning $211,250 a year to get a tax-payer funded pay rise – despite many Australians struggling as cost of living pressures spiral.
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt earns a cabinet minister’s salary of $426,619 a year – or $7109 a week, which is about 10 times the minimum wage of $772.60.
But Mr Wyatt believes federal politicians – who also receive an extra 14.5 per cent superannuation contribution – should be paid even more from the public purse, despite stifled wage growth and surging inflation.
The statement comes as economic data on Wednesday revealed the country is grappling with a 5.1 per cent rise in annual inflation – the highest in 22 years – out stripping wage growth two-fold.
The Member for Hasluck first made the claims during a 2018 interview with the Good Weekend – but this week reaffirmed to The Australian he maintains his stance.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt (pictured) has doubled down on calls for politicians to be paid more
In the article four years ago, Mr Wyatt, discussed how he grew up in poverty in Bunbury, Western Australia, before becoming a teacher. Despite his humble roots he now considers his current pay packet to be ‘comfortable’.
‘Actually … I don’t look at my salary – I’m assuming it’s about $260,000 or $280,000,’ he told the publication.
Asked if that felt like too little, too much or just right, Mr Wyatt said he had previously ruminated on the topic and thinks ‘we don’t pay our politicians enough’.
‘You want people who are going to go in and look after the interests of all Australians. I earned more as a public servant than as a backbencher. I look at the corporate sector and can’t see how you justify salaries of $18m,’ he said.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the MP said Mr Wyatt believes it’s important that our parliament attracts a diverse range of people, reflective of the Australian population, and he is proud to be the first Indigenous Australian elected to the House of Representatives.
‘His comments were in relation to the decision he took to enter parliament, and the fact he earned more as a public servant (as director, Aboriginal Health, for Western Australia’s Department of Health) than as a backbencher,’ the spokesperson said.
Inflation hit 5.1 per cent on Wednesday as wage growth stagnates and the cost of living soars
‘It’s ultimately about serving the community, and that’s why he put up his hand to represent Hasluck and is now delivering on his plan.’
Australians are bracing for a potential cash rate rise for the first time since 2007 and three of the four big banks predict the Reserve Bank of Australia to announce the rise next week.
With annual wage growth sitting at just 2.3 per cent, experts predict Aussies will be around $4000 worse off by the end of 2022.
Scott Morrison, whose $550,000 plus salary places him in the top five highest paid political leaders in the world, has refused to support an increase to the minimum wage through the Fair Work Commission annual wage review.
The coalition has also rejected calls from unions to give aged care workers a long-term a pay rise, instead announcing two one-off payments of $400 aimed at incentivising workers to remain in the industry.
A Labor spokesperson said the comments by Mr Wyatt, who was the WA Department of Health’s director for Aboriginal Health before entering parliament in 2010, demonstrated the Morrison’s government was ‘out of touch’.
He said Mr Wyatt should be calling on the PM to deliver policies that actually increase wages for everyday Australians.
Scott Morrison has come under fire over the rising cost of living under his government
In April 2020, Mr Morrison rejected calls for politicians and public servants to take a pay cut as the country dealt with the economic fallout of the Covid pandemic.
Around the same time, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who earns $441,724 a year and her ministers took a 20 per cent pay cut for six months as a sign of solidarity with those affected by Covid.
Mr Wyatt’s comments come as Mr Morrison faces increasing pressure to acknowledge the rising cost of living under his government rather than blame international factors.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said Scott Morrison should take some responsibility as Australians were being slammed by the cost of living crisis.
Mr Morrison blamed the pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine for the worrying CPI data this week.
Dr Chalmers said it didn’t explain away the Liberal-National coalition’s actions during their nine years in power.
‘The war in Ukraine doesn’t explain or excuse a decade of this mob going after people’s wages and job security and that’s a big part of the problem,’ he told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
With annual wage growth sitting at just 2.3 per cent, experts predict Aussies will be around $4000 worse off by the end of 2022
‘(Morrison) needs to take responsibility for once, not point the finger, not go missing when people need him.’
Mr Morrison also dismissed comparisons between himself and former prime minister John Howard, who lost the 2007 election that coincided with an interest rate rise.
The current cash rate is at a historic low of 0.1 per cent, while in 2007 it was at 6.5 per cent.
Mr Morrison said different factors were at play in 2007 compared to now and to draw equivalence between the two time periods was to misunderstand history.
‘We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, with a war in Europe. Those situations were not in place in 2007. I think everyone would understand that,’ Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison urged voters to stay the course with the Liberal-National coalition as cost of living pressures tighten.
Scott Morrison earns more than $550,000 a year – placing him among the top five highest paid political leaders in the world
In a time of great uncertainty with cost of living pressures, voters should return his government to power based on their track record, Mr Morrison said.
‘Through the course of this pandemic, we got through this together because (Australians have) been making wise decisions and the government has been doing the same to back them in.’
‘We have been wise stewards of taxpayers’ money as well to ensure our economy is set up to perform in a very, very challenging environment.’
But Dr Chalmers said while some issues causing rising inflation were global, the coalition pretended they could not do anything to address the lack of wage rises.
‘Scott Morrison claims to be good at managing the economy. It is not good economic management if Australians cannot get ahead,’ he said,
‘It is not good economic management if Australians are falling further and further behind.’
Labor’s economic plan, if it wins office, would include an audit of ‘waste and rorts’ as well as crackdowns on multinational companies avoiding tax in a bid to make $5billion in budget savings.